The Royal Navy's only ice patrol ship has said "Farewell Falklands" and began her journey back to the UK following four months of working in the Antarctic.
HMS Protector has sailed from the Falkland Islands on her 6,000-mile journey back to the UK for maintenance and training.
Last month the Plymouth-based survey ship completed her Antarctic scientific mission for this season – safeguarding birdlife and laying the groundwork for further research.
The icebreaker accessed a previously inaccessible area so its crew could lay the groundwork for future research, protecting wildlife, safeguarding birdlife and leaving behind special markers.
The Plymouth-based survey ship is on a five-year mission, splitting her time between the hemispheres – from boreal summers venturing into the Arctic to austral summers working in her more traditional realm of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Protector, playfully nicknamed the Royal Navy's 'Swiss army knife' due to her red and yellow colour scheme, spends four to six weeks at a time – known as a work period – conducting survey work to update charts, working with British and international scientists delivering supplies, supporting research, moving people and equipment around, as well as collecting scientific data.
In December 2022, the crew of HMS Protector rescued the staff of an isolated scientific base on the island of Port Lockroy after they were buried under the snow.
Protector's marine engineers used traditional naval damage control methods using wooden stakes and blocks to stabilise the structure, similar to how they would support a deckhead or bulkhead on a damaged warship.
After maintenance and training in the UK, she will return to Polar waters later in the year.